American Elephants


Reading for Pure Pleasure, Or How to Get Lost in a Book by The Elephant's Child

I recommended a few books a few days ago to add to your knowledge. There are many kinds of reading, thrillers, histories, mysteries, westerns and romances, among others. If you are still locked down, or avoiding going out, you are likely to need more reading just for pure pleasure. To get lost in a book.

At the very tip-top of my list is Patrick O’Brien. with seventeen novels described variously as “the best historical novels ever written”, “the best sea story I have ever read,” books you will keep to read again and again. The series is about the Royal Navy in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and establishes the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey R.N. and Stephen Maturin. ship’s surgeon and intelligence agent against the thrilling background of the Napoleonic wars.

Details of life aboard a man of war in Nelson’s navy are faultlessly rendered; the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging and the roar of the broadsides as the great ships close in battle.

The first, Master and Commander, was published in 1970, the last in 1995. You can get the whole series from Amazon for a hefty $240.75 or one at a time for $10.89. One of the best investments you will ever make.

Another series I recommend highly is James Clavell’s Asian Saga which begins in 1600 with Shogun, followed by Tai-Pan, 1841, Gai-Jin,1862, King Rat, 1945, Noble House,1963, and Whirlwind,1979. Clavell is an excellent storyteller. Today’s China and Hong Kong add to the interest although the books are fiction.

If you are female and do not read books about wars and battles, shame on you, but you might enjoy anything by Penelope Lively, Joanne Greenberg, or Elizabeth Spencer.



Words, Words, Words, But Does Anyone Really Read Anymore? by The Elephant's Child

The conversation out there has become quite impossible. Rude, insulting, partisan, phony, uncivil. How did we get here? Everyone seems to be playing the old “can you top this” game. Can insults become offensive enough? Some were suggesting that it was a matter of attention. People just weren’t paying enough attention, and they didn’t understand what was really going on. I’m not convinced. But it started me off on a slightly different track.

I have been noticing that people don’t seem to read anything much – in depth. Snippets here and there. A few lines, and decide it’s not interesting enough. A headline here, a picture caption there and on to something else. Reading is complicated, much of the writing is lightweight. The internet world flashes words. A serious passage is interrupted with ads and pictures, The worst is a ad with a picture that is moving right in the middle of something that promised to be rewarding. Your concentration is always broken. Words and voices are competing constantly for your attention. While you are trying to read a short paragraph, a message appears about your incoming mail, and are you listening to the radio while you read? As you surf the web, are you actually learning anything at all? What do you do with longer pieces that promise to offer something worthwhile? Do you read it immediately to see if it is worth saving or just save it, and forget to read it later?

Think back to earlier days when new information was not so easily obtained. When there were town criers, when the telegraph finally crossed the continent. When books were scarce, and information only arrived occasionally. Now we are drowning in it, and view it with mild interest and often contempt. We suffer from a glut. The fact that it is no longer valued is exemplified by the proliferation of “fact-checking sites,” Back when information was slow and scarce, we probably believed it all because there was no competition. Do you know the history of our country? Do your kids know the history of our country? Or only Howard Zinn’s phony version?

Let’s say you are interested in China, because you have heard of the Hong Kong riots, and “Trump’s trade war”— how do you satisfy the urge to know more? Do you start with a Google search? Turn to Fox News or the Huffington Post or Drudge? You surely search for a source you trust, but why has that site earned your trust? And are they informed enough to have good information, and how much information do you need to find to satisfy the need to know?

I was an English major a hundred or so years ago, and I learned to read and read a lot. I know I read a lot more than my kids do, because I have more available time. Do you squeeze the news into your work day? Or does that wait till you get home? I suspect that in the “Information Age”, we may be dumber and more poorly informed than ever before. I think there are many who have never learned to read the hard stuff. What has Twitter done to our use of words and our understanding? Are our kids learning too much from computer screens instead of the printed page? Newspapers and magazines are clearly slowly dying. Do people subscribe to newspapers and magazines any more? Does anyone subscribe to a movie magazine or a People type magazine except for Doctors offices and hairdressers? Are any of your children real readers who get lost in a book? And how did they get that way? I think there is a big change here underlying our present world, and I’m not at all sure it is a good one.



The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by The Elephant's Child

On the actual 18th of April, the country was consumed with all things Mueller report, and I forgot to post this. Good for kids, who like the galloping rhythm of the poem, a lesson in history, and encourge them to memorize part or all of it. Memorizing is a skill that would serve them well through school and probably their future occupations as well.

Paul Revere’s Ride posted annually by The Elephant’s Child


[A little Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the eighteenth of April]
Today is the 244th anniversary of the “Shot heard Round the World”

Listen, my children, and  you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend,”If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light—
One if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said, “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, a British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade—
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay—
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now gazed at the landscape far and near.
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth
And turned and tightened his saddle girth:
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides:
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.

And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest.  In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm—
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will awaken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the  midnight message of Paul Revere.

(The illustration is from a lovely edition of the poem illustrated by Ted Rand for children or any Longfellow lovers. Copies still available from Amazon at very reasonable  prices)



Wildfire In The West by The Elephant's Child

sequoia-forest-fire-505503-sw

Those of you who are following the dreadful story of the California wildfires might be interested in Norman Maclean’s Young Men and Fire.  Norman Maclean (1902-1990) grew up in the Western Rocky Mountains of Montana. He worked for many years in logging camps and for the U.S. Forest Service before he began his academic career. He is the author of A River Runs Through It and Other Stories which he completed after his retirement from the University of Chicago in 1973.

On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen Smoke-jumpers, the U.S. Forest Service’s elite airborne firefighters, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Less than two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or fatally burned. Exactly what happened in Mann Gulch that day has been obscured by years of grief and controversy.

Norman Maclean first saw the Mann Gulch fire as it still burned in mid August 1949, and even then he knew he would one day become part of its story. Maclean spent the last fourteen years of his life studying and reliving the fire.
Young Men and Fire is a story of Montana, of the ways of wildfires, firefighters and fire scientists, and especially of crew, young and proud, who”hadn’t learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy”. The story is also Maclean’s own, the story of a writer obsessed by a strange and human horror, unable to let the truth die with these young men.

The smokejumpers in Mann Gulch are trapped by a “blowup” a deadly explosion of flame and wind rarely encountered and little understood at the time.

A River Runs Through It is also very special. Maclean beginsIn our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”



The Intellectual Climate of the Nation Today… by The Elephant's Child

SHOCKEDBALDEAGLE

The intellectual climate of the nation today came from the public schools, where almost every one of us was schooled in the work of the mind. We are a people who imagine that we are weighing important issues when we exchange generalizations and well-known opinions. We decide how to vote or what to buy according to whim or fancied self-interest, either of which is easily engendered in us by the manipulation of language, which we have neither the will nor the ability to analyze. We believe that we can reach conclusions without having the faintest idea of the difference between inferences and statements of fact, often without any suspicions that there are such things and that they are different. We are easily persuaded and repersuaded by what seems authoritative, without any notion of those attributes and abilities that characterize authority. We do  not notice elementary fallacies in logic; it doesn’t even occur to us to look for them; few of us are even aware that such things exist. We make no regular distinction between those kinds of things that can be known and objectively verified and those that can only be believed or not. Nor are we likely to examine, when we believe or not, the induced predispositions that may make us do the one or the other. We are easy prey.

—Richard Mitchell: The Graves of Academe



Heather MacDonald Takes on Academe and UCLA by The Elephant's Child

How unbelievably stupid! A major designed to make its participants less knowledgeable, less able to find work, less able to cope with the world, and less useful as a member of the population. I was an English major at a very good small college, with excellent professors who were in love with literature and wanted to pass that on to their students. The professor who taught Shakespeare was a noted Shakespearean scholar.

No wonder college students seem to believe that socialism is a better alternative to freedom. If you have a student headed to UCLA, you had better rethink that. You are wasting their time and your money.Send them to vocational school instead—there they’ll at least learn something.



Time for Our Annual Salute to Paul Revere by The Elephant's Child


[A little Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the eighteenth of April]

Listen, my children, and  you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend,”If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light—
One if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said, “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, a British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade—
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay—
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now gazed at the landscape far and near.
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth
And turned and tightened his saddle girth:
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides:
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.

And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest.  In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm—
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will awaken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the  midnight message of Paul Revere.

(The illustration is from a lovely edition of the poem illustrated by Ted Rand for children or any Longfellow lovers. Copies still available from Amazon at very reasonable  prices)

I post this every year, but I almost forgot entirely. Too late for most, but print it out if you have kids and teach them a little history, which they probably won’t get in school. Kids like the rhythm- of galloping hooves that Longfellow used in this historic poem.



In Case you Need Reminding, or Never Knew by The Elephant's Child
October 10, 2017, 6:42 am
Filed under: History, Literature, World War II | Tags: , ,

The Seven Deadly Sins

Pride, Wrath, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Avarice and Sloth.

The Seven Virtues

Faith, Hope Charity, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.
(the first three are the Holy Virtues)

The three little planes left on Malta during the German assault on Malta in were named ‘Faith,’ ‘Hope’, and ‘Charity’



The 242nd Anniversary of “The Shot Heard Round the World” by The Elephant's Child

A little Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the eighteenth of April. Today is the 242nd anniversary of the “Shot heard round the World.” Teach your children a little history, too many of the snowflakes now in college have apparently never heard of him or his famous ride, nor do they understand why it is a big deal. The kids will not learn about it in school, They are learning that patriotism is racist or at the very least problematic. They will not learn unless you teach them.

Listen, my children, and  you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend,”If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light—
One if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said, “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, a British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade—
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay—
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now gazed at the landscape far and near.
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth
And turned and tightened his saddle girth:
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides:
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.

And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest.  In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm—
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will awaken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the  midnight message of Paul Revere.

(The illustration is from a lovely edition of the poem illustrated by Ted Rand for children or any Longfellow lovers. Copies still available from Amazon at very reasonable  prices) Children love the cadence of the famous lines that capture the sound of a galloping horse.



How Intelligence Works by The Elephant's Child

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is a recipient of the U.S .National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the author of several books, including Real-World Intelligence and Hard Thinking, and many of his speeches are available on YouTube.

In the most recent copy of Imprimus, an excerpt from a recent speech on Intelligence is fascinating. “How Intelligence Works (When It Does)

Just utter the word “intelligence” and most people conjure up images of spies, secret satellites peering down on foreign cities and terrorist camps, and rooms full of young technocrats reading private emails and listening to private conversations. These images are accurate, but they reflect the tools and techniques of our intelligence service, rather than its purpose.

To understand its purpose, think of a jumbo jet flying at night through turbulent skies—thunder clouds, lightning, other airplanes streaking in all directions and at all altitudes. To navigate through this, the pilot and his crew rely on their radar—the instrument that paints a picture of their environment, enabling them to see what’s going on around them and what lies ahead so they can chart a safe course. Radar doesn’t tell the captain and his crew what to do, but it gives them the accurate information they’ll need to make good decisions.

Our intelligence service is our nation’s radar. Its purpose is to provide the president and his national security team with an accurate picture of what’s going on in the world and what’s likely to happen in the days, months, and years ahead. The assumption is that if the president and his team have this information, they can chart a safe course for our country. And if they can see the distant future soon enough and clearly enough—and if they don’t like what they see—they can take steps to change the future before it happens.

Good intelligence is a combination, he says, of information and insight. Information is the raw material, while insight is the finished product.The key to producing good intelligence lies in getting this combination of information and insight right. …You start with a thesis—in other words you decide what you want to know, then you send your collectors out to get it. The key is asking the right question.

In the period from the end of World War II until 1981, every president’s objective had been not to lose the Cold War. If things were no worse when a president left office than when he took office—he’d done a good job. President Reagan, instead, wanted to win the Cold War. He had switched from Defense to Offense. His Director of Central Intelligence asked the CIA’s Soviet Division  two questions. Where is the Soviet Union weak? and Where is it most vulnerable? The answer he received was: We don’t know. No one’s ever asked this before.

You can read the rest of this most interesting post at the link above.

Imprimus is a brief publication from Hillsdale College delivered to your email once a month. You can subscribe, it’s free. They also offer a number of free courses you can take. Hillsdale receives no federal money, remains stubbornly independent and teaches subjects like the Constitution and American History, things like that. No safe spaces, no riots. Excellent professors. Real education.



Words of Wisdom: Copy and Send to Your School Board by The Elephant's Child

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“Schooling is done in public places, but the roots of an education grow only in the hidden ground of the mind. Lessons are taught in social institutions but they can be learned only by private people. The acts that are at once the means and the end of education: knowing, thinking, understanding, judging, are all committed in solitude. It is only in a mind that the work can be done. There is no such thing as “collective thinking.” Our schools can be an instrument for socialization or an incentive to thoughtfulness, but they cannot be both.”

…”At the root of our widespread and institutionalized illiteracy is a fevered commitment to socialization and an equally unhealthy hostility to the solitary, and thus probably anti-social work of the mind. In school, the inane and uninformed regurgitations of the ninth-grade rap session on solar energy as a viable alternative to nuclear power are positive, creative, self-esteem-enhancing student behavioral outcomes; the child who sits alone at the turning of the staircase, reading, is a weirdo. The students did not bring that “appreciation” to school: they learned it there.”
………………………………………………………. Richard Mitchell
……………………………………………………….The Graves of Academe



Only a Tube of Toothpaste… by The Elephant's Child
Zahnpaste, toothpaste


The Wall Street Journal offers this in their “Notable & Quotable ” column. From author César Hidalgo’s “Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economics: (Basic Books, 2015)

In my talks I often ask the attendees to raise their hands if they have used toothpaste that morning. [Then] I ask audience members to keep their hands up only if they know how to synthesize sodium fluoride. As you can imagine, all hands go down. . . .

When we are buying toothpaste we are not simply buying paste in a tube. Instead we are buying access to the practical uses of the creativity of the person who invented toothpaste, the scientific knowledge informing the chemical synthesis that is required to make toothpaste, the knowhow required to synthesize sodium fluoride, put it inside a tube, and make it available across the planet, and the knowledge that fluoride makes our teeth stronger and has beneficial effects on our health. Something as simple as toothpaste gives us indirect access to the practical uses of the imagination, knowledge, and knowhow that exist, or existed, in the nervous systems of people we have probably never met.

Very nice.

 




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